For members


French expression of the day: Coup de soleil

This week is going to be steamy hot with a lot of sun, and if you live in France you have only recently been able to freely move outside the home. So watch out for sunbeams trying to throw punches at you.

French expression of the day: Coup de soleil
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to need to know coup de soleil?

Because you may need it in the coming days.

What does it mean?

Coup de soleil literally means ‘hit of sun’. 

But, like the many French expressions that begin with coup, it doesn’t really involve physical violence.

Coup de soleil is what the French call getting a 'sunburn'.

If you ever have suffered a really bad sunburn you will agree that, linguistically, coup de soleil makes sense. Those red burns can sting worse than a good beating.

Unless you're one of those lucky people with a garden or balcony, chances are that, after eight weeks of lockdown, you too are some kind of vampire shade of grey, peering into the sunlight as if it were something alien that could hurt your body.

Which, of course, it can. So here are some ways you use coup de soleil in the coming days;

Tu me passes la crème solaire, s'il te plaît ? Je n'ai pas envie d'attraper un coup de soleil. – Could you pass me the sunscreen, please? I don't want to get a sunburn.

J'ai chopé un énorme coup de soleil sur le front ce week-end. Je n'avais pas mis de crème solaire sur le visage parce que je me disais que ce n'était pas la peine avec le masque.. – I got a major sunburn on my forehead this weekend. I didn't put on sunscreen because I reckoned it didn't really make any difference seeing as I was going to wear a mask anyway.

Attention, tu prends des coups de soleil sur le dos là. – Careful, your back is getting sunburnt.

Other sun-related phrases

You could say tu as la peau brulé – your skin is burnt.

If you're one of those lucky people who don't burn, you're just bronzé – tan.

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For members


French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why being a good pupil can sometimes be … bad.

French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why do I need to know Syndrome de la bonne élève?

Feeling under-valued at work despite doing everything – and more – asked of you? You may have ‘good student syndrome’.

What does it mean?

Syndrome de la bonne élève – pronounced sin-dromm de la bon ell-evv – translates, as we’ve already hinted, as good student syndrome. 

You may well also see it written as syndrome du bon élève (pronounced sin-dromm doo bon ell-evv) – but this is predominantly a female issue.

It refers to someone in the workplace who tries their hardest to work to the rules, do all the jobs asked of them – and more – and yet is overlooked in favour of co-workers who don’t necessarily put in the same hard graft.

It’s not an official ‘syndrome’, but mental health experts do recognise it in many people – particularly women.

It is a hangover, according to features in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, from school days when girls are considered to be harder workers and less trouble than their boy counterparts.

Marie Claire labelled it a “destructive perfectionism … which affects the mental health of the women they become, while preventing them from embracing positions of responsibility’.’

Use it like this

Le syndrome de la bonne élève touche essentiellement les femmes dans le monde occidental. – Good student syndrome mainly affects women in the Western world.

Cette question d’éducation est d’autant plus marquante que le syndrome du « bon élève » affecte généralement les femmes – This question of education is all the more striking because “good student” syndrome generally affects women